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Updated: January 24, 2012 19:59 IST

Rushdie's video link under cloud

    Vaiju Naravane
    Sunny Sebastian
Comment (10)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
The chance of author Salman Rushdie addressing the Jaipur Literature Festival through video conferencing appears bleak.
AP The chance of author Salman Rushdie addressing the Jaipur Literature Festival through video conferencing appears bleak.

Despite his absence from the Jaipur Literature Festival, Salman Rushdie loomed large on the penultimate day of India's biggest literary event with the State government insisting it reserved the right to decide whether audiences would be allowed to hear the celebrated speaker speak via a video hook-up.

Also on Monday, the groups and individuals involved in the campaign to prevent Mr. Rushdie from coming to Jaipur upped the ante by filing police complaints against four authors — Hari Kunzru, Amitav Kumar, Ruchir Joshi and Jeet Thayil — who read extracts from his banned book, The Satanic Verses, on the opening day of the festival, as well as the festival organisers.

Five complaints against writers

At least five complaints have been filed in Jaipur, and one each in Ajmer and Hyderabad. And hearings have been set for January 24 and 25 in Jaipur and for January 30 in Ajmer, according to Kavita Srivastava, general secretary of the People's Union for Civil Liberties, Rajasthan.

The organisers had announced the holding of a videoconference with Mr. Rushdie, but backtracked, somewhat, citing the need for a green light from the administration. “At this point in time, we are going ahead with the videoconference. We have sought both permission and clarification from the Rajasthan government. Clarification on whether it could be deemed illegal to hold such a videoconference. And permission because we have been told that videoconferencing did not figure on our initial list of demands submitted when we sought permission to hold the festival,” Sanjoy Roy of the JLF told The Hindu. “We are discussing the format of the videoconference with Mr. Rushdie. The police have sought from us the format,” he said.

Speaking to The Hindu, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said he would consult his Home Secretary about whether there was the possibility of a law and order situation developing during the videoconference with Mr. Rushdie and then decide whether to allow the event to go ahead. “We do not know, nor do we have any control over what could be said. There might be persons present there who might cause disturbance. Protesters could gather outside or try to disrupt the proceedings. It is only after consultations with my Home Secretary that a decision will be taken later tonight,” Mr. Gehlot said.

‘Risk to peace'

Earlier, Muslim leaders said they had no objection to the videoconference. However, Engineer Saleem, national secretary of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, told The Hindu that it constituted a risk to public peace and order. “We do not know what Mr. Rushdie is likely to say. He likes to provoke. His recent emails and messages on Twitter have been provocative. It is possible that someone asks a provocative question in the audience and he gives a reply that causes offence. There is a certain risk involved,” Mr. Engineer said.

The Hindu has learnt that the Chief Minister would be willing to give permission if the organisers give an assurance that there would be no provocative questions asked, no exchanges with the public, no dialogue but a simple reading out of a statement.

It is acceptable for the govt. to decide who can attend a literary
function. If the author's views are not in line with a communities
views, then they should protest with in the law. The govt. has no
right to take the law in its hand. They have to set an example by
following the law by letter and spirit. It does not appear they are
doing it here...Satanic Verses is banned in India, not Mr.Rushdie. How can one presume he will disturb peace? If he breaks the law, then hold him
accountable. What they have done is nothing but shameful.
Our constitutional rights are being taken away by authorities... one by one... First they denied right to peaceful assembly (Anna's protest), now they are taking away right for free speech. Pastor Martin Niemöller words come to mind ...First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist...

from:  Soma
Posted on: Jan 24, 2012 at 13:00 IST

I don't think writing or reading a book is a crime .In our daily life , we have so much differences in our points of views. Those people who are spending their useful time to stop Mr. Rushdie to come to India, should concentrate in development of India , if they really want to do something good for common people .

from:  John Roy
Posted on: Jan 24, 2012 at 11:59 IST

Time for some legal action. Now can Mr.Chetan Bhagat who said "Read Satanic Verses," feel good about putting fellow writers at risk. I think Mr.Chetan Bhagat name is also in the list of accused. Rushdie love to provoke people and this is not what we want here right now. We have different issue at hand inflation, education, health care to name just a few problems.

from:  Syed
Posted on: Jan 24, 2012 at 09:23 IST

Peopple are not allowed to think of Salman Rushdie. It might disturb peace and order.

from:  Hitesh
Posted on: Jan 24, 2012 at 09:13 IST

So the cat is out of the bag - we are morphing into Pakistan - albeit an
"Indianized Pakistan" where the religious groups rule the country and
the elected govt toes their line, while issuing brave statements.
There should be allowed videoconferencing as well as Q&A sessions - Mr
Rushdie is no Al-Qaeda cleric who could cause law and order problems. If
some truly provocative issue is raised, it could be stopped and the
person involved expelled with immediate effect. But the state govt seems
to want to bury its head in the sand.

from:  Aritra Gupta
Posted on: Jan 24, 2012 at 07:47 IST

I don't think the video conference should be considered a risk to
peace.Mr.Rushdie has to respect the law of the land when he speaks,I am
sure he understands it,if he doesn't,then there is always a law to take
care of it.I still think the Festival and Rushdie got the undue
publicity because of the objections from various organisations.

from:  Jaya Prakash
Posted on: Jan 24, 2012 at 07:20 IST

India is a secular country. All people have the freedom to express their
opinion.

from:  johnmathew
Posted on: Jan 24, 2012 at 05:28 IST

This is perfect 'Alice in Wonderland' story where nothing makes any sense. First, the Darool Ulema had to rake up a long dead issue. Then, Mr. Ashok Gehlot (CM Rajasthan) and Congress had to make a stink on Mr. Rushdie's attendance and then backtrack. Then, came the cheapest of cheap shots - a manufactured intelligence from Rajasthan (the Mr. Gehlot's office is now stuck with this allegation, with no interest in establishing proof now) with purported threat on Mr. Rushdie's life.
This an exercise in making Mr. Rushdie an icon, a superhero, none of which is by his doing.With the video conference under a cloud, Mr. Rushdie will soon find himself to be the ageless, fearless leader of the free world. Congratulations to Deobandi Ulema, Mr. Gehlot, Congress minions, and other appeasers. With such Muslim friends at work, Muslim baiters are rendered jobless.

from:  Dr. Ajay
Posted on: Jan 24, 2012 at 02:00 IST

This is Simply NUTS. I am neither Anti-Islamist nor a Hindu Hardliner. But looks like there is a conspiracy by the Government at the center and state hell bent on not allowing people to have freedom of expression. Congress Governments are playing into the the hands of partisan forces expecting to benefit from the upcoming elections. But they will only bite the dust if they do not allow people to to express their views. Why India is becoming such a radical place taking extreme views for every single issue. Congress is conspiring and Talibanising the society with malign intent.
When a Indian born man is given security and allowed independence to express his views in a foreign country, why not he be allowed to do the same in his own country. How many Indian citizens who have experienced superior civil liberties in western countries would like to come back to such a backward thinking society. How can Indian Govt can expect good brains to relocate to India when society is going backwards?

from:  Hemnath S
Posted on: Jan 24, 2012 at 00:23 IST

Why so much hype about Salman Rushdie, and his links and stuff he has
written. He is out-dated and irrelevant in these times! Indians have
more things to worry about in their lives. So please leave him in peace.

from:  MSiraj
Posted on: Jan 23, 2012 at 23:00 IST
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